The COVID-19 Committee convened a youth panel to help ensure their Life Beyond COVID inquiry includes the perspectives of those aged under 30.
The Committee’s inquiry is seeking views on what the pandemic will mean for our daily lives (our work and at home) and for society (social cohesion, (in)equality, our environment and arts and culture) in two to five years’ time. Conscious that they have no members under the age of 30, and that young people’s futures may be affected differently than other peoples, the Committee were keen to hear directly from younger people at the start of their inquiry.
Fourteen young people from different parts of the UK took part in the online discussion with the Committee. While there were lots of different views and opinions, two concerns that emerged strongly were the impact that COVID-19 might have on their future job prospects and the impact that it was having on people’s mental health. At the same time, participants spoke about the need to be positive about the future, and not to compromise on their aspirations, with some identifying aspects of their lives that had changed for the better because of the pandemic.
When asked about the consequence of more things moving online, participants told the Committee that, while this had some definite benefits (such as making learning and work opportunities more accessible for some people), it was no replacement for social contact and that a balance between online and offline needed to be struck.
Members were struck by how difficult many participants found it to picture their life beyond COVID; there was a sense that the changes to people’s lives over the last few months have been so great, that it was hard to imagine them ending.
The Committee are very grateful to all those who took part in the session.